Robert Smirke (architect)

Robert Smirke RA ( born October 1, 1780 in London, United Kingdom, † April 18, 1867 in Cheltenham ) was a British architect. He designed numerous important buildings in the UK, particularly in London.


Robert Smirke was born the second of twelve children of the portrait painter Robert Smirke. In school, he learned Latin, Greek and French. In May 1796, he began his training as an architect at John Soane and was recorded in the same year the Royal Academy of Arts. After only a few months left due to personal differences Smirke, Soane and teamed up with the architect George Dance the Younger together and the surveyor Thomas Bush. From 1801 to 1805 he went on the Grand Tour and deepened his studies of architecture in Southern Europe. In 1805 he joined the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Architects ' Club. In 1806 he published the book Specimens of Continental Architecture, which was intended as the first in a series of volumes, which was never completed.

His first designed under state contract building was the Mint Royal Mint. In further orders, he designed the new building of the destroyed Royal Opera House, and was finally in 1813, was appointed along with John Nash and his former teacher John Soane in the Office of Works, the royal site office.

1819 married Laura Smirke Freston, the daughter of the priest Anthony Freston, which in turn was a grandnephew of architect Matthew Brettingham. The marriage sprang a daughter named Laura.

Smirke was knighted in 1832. In 1845 he retired from the active construction activity. 1853 Royal Institute of British Architects awarded him the Royal Gold Medal for architecture. In 1859 he left the Royal Academy and retired to Cheltenham, where he died in 1867. He left a fortune of 90,000 pounds. In his life he had designed or renovated more than twenty churches, fifty and sixty public and private buildings.


Smirke built numerous buildings in the classical style, many of which have survived to this day:

  • The Royal Mint Royal Mint was built from 1807 to 1812. The original plans were designed by James Johnson, but these were modified by Smirke during execution.
  • The Covent Garden Theatre, now the Royal Opera House, designed by Smirke and built from 1808 to 1809 in ten months, but in 1857 destroyed by fire.
  • The main building and the facade of the British Museum is probably the best known work Smirke dar. For cost reasons, the execution was divided into several stages. First, the King 's Library was built in the east wing from 1823 to 1828. The northern part of the west wing with the Egyptian Galleries followed from 1825 to 1834. The north wing was built from 1833 to 1838, the west wing and the Southern Front from 1842 to 1846. The most striking design feature of the southern front, the forty-four Ionic columns.
  • The original building of the Royal College of Physicians, now known as Canada House was designed by Smirke and built from 1824 to 1827.
  • At the planning and implementation of the Lancaster House Smirke was involved in 1825 and 1832 to 1840.
  • The East Wing of Somerset House was designed by Smirke and built from 1829 to 1831, with the design of the built by William Chambers building was taken over.
  • The building of the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall was built by Smirke 1835-1838.
  • The collapsed central part of the Custom House was rebuilt in 1825 by Smirke their own designs.